By Neena Strichart, Publisher
Blow up the balloons, strike up the band, send out the announcements … today I am one year smoke free!
After several attempts to quit, I have finally done it and I believe I won’t ever pick up the habit again. My reasons for quitting in the past have been pretty generic—cigarettes are expensive, my clothes smell bad, I feel ostracized by non-smokers, fear of dying from lung cancer, recurring pneumonia and bronchitis, etc. Although they are all valid reasons, and may be motivators for others, none of them worked for me.
I have written before about the one factor or motivator that finally struck a nerve with me—and I feel this is a good time to repeat the story:
Last year I found out I had periodontal disease. Yuck and ouch. I went through some pretty intense and expensive laser dental/gum procedures with Dr. Gregg in Cerritos who told me I’d have to go through the whole thing again if I didn’t quit smoking. He said if I decided to keep smoking and NOT have the procedure repeated I would probably lose my teeth. Hmmm, keep smoking and lose my teeth—or quit and keep them. (Note: Funny that the thought of death from lung cancer was no motivator—but the threat of living to a ripe old age with no teeth was unthinkable—ah, vanity!)
I felt I had no choice. I had to find a way to put down the cigarettes for good. I started with the patch and later started attending weekly meetings with an amazing support group. The combination of the two was a winner. No, it wasn’t easy. Yes, it was painful. My muscles ached for months. Nevertheless I did it, and I’m proud of myself.
For those of you who are considering becoming non-smokers, please look for your motivator and consider the following from the Army Medicine Web site:
• Within 20 minutes of the last cigarette, blood pressure drops to its baseline level. Pulse rate also drops, and the body temperature of the hands and feet increases to normal healthy levels.
• Within eight hours, carbon monoxide levels return to normal in your blood stream. Oxygen levels also increase back to normal.
• Within 24 hours, your chance of a heart attack decreases.
• Within 48 hours, nerve endings start regrowing, and your senses of taste and smell improve.
• Within 72 hours bronchial tubes relax, making breathing easier. Lung capacity increases a little, too.
• By two weeks to three months, circulation improves. Walking becomes easier, and lung function increases up to 30 percent.
• By one to nine months, coughing, sinus infections, fatigue, and shortness of breath decrease markedly. Your energy level will also increase.